Barriers to Exercise in Patients With Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver Disease: A Patient Survey

Kedar Deshpande, John Olynyk, Oyekoya Ayonrinde, Kazunori Nosaka


Background: Although adequate physical activity is an essential component of treatment for metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), the majority of people with MASLD do not engage in regular exercise and lead sedentary lifestyles. We aimed to identify perceived barriers to exercise and to examine awareness about the role of exercise in the treatment of MASLD.

Methods: Individuals aged 18 years and above were recruited from a hepatology outpatient clinic. MASLD severity was assessed using controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) and transient elastography (TE) determined liver stiffness measurement (LSM) for the severity of hepatic steatosis and fibrosis, respectively. An online questionnaire was administered to record self-reported exercise patterns, barriers to exercise, and knowledge regarding effectiveness of different types of exercise for MASLD.

Results: Eighty-one participants (57% female) with a mean age of 55.3 13.4 years and a mean body mass index (BMI) of 33.8 6.4 answered the questionnaire. The mean CAP score was 335.7 47.8 dB/m, and the median LSM was 12.45 kPa. While most patients (83%) considered MASLD to be a serious health concern, 73% did not achieve the recommended exercise levels of 150 min of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, and 54% were unsure about the role of exercise in the treatment of MASLD. Commonly reported barriers to exercise included physical and mental health issues (57%), lack of time (43%), lack of enjoyment in exercising (31%), fatigue caused by exercise (24%), and others (25%).

Conclusions: Most participants with MASLD were unaware of the role of exercise as a potential treatment option and were not achieving recommended exercise levels. Inadequate time, physical and mental health problems, lack of enjoyment in exercise, and fatigue were major barriers.

J Clin Med Res. 2024;16(2-3):94-105


Liver steatosis; Liver fibrosis; Challenges; Physical activity; Lifestyle

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